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Author: Mark W. Theisen
Photo by Brady Whitesel. Copyright 2015 -
Photo by Brady Whitesel. Copyright 2015 -
August 25th 2015 - WEST BEND, WI August 24, 2015:   - INDYCAR announced that driver Justin Wilson, who enjoyed success in multiple motorsports series during a two-decade professional career, died today from a head injury sustained in the Verizon IndyCar Series race yesterday at Pocono International Raceway, a race won by Ryan Hunter-Reay, a teammate of Wilson at Andretti Autosport.  He was 37.

"This is a monumentally sad day for INDYCAR and the motorsports community as a whole," said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co., the parent of INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "Justin's elite ability to drive a race car was matched by his unwavering kindness, character and humility - which is what made him one of the most respected members of the paddock. As we know, the racing industry is one big family, and our efforts moving forward will be focused on rallying around Justin's family to ensure they get the support they need during this unbelievably difficult time."

Wilson was struck by debris from a single-car crash involving Sage Karam on Lap 180 of the 200-lap race on the 2.5-mile triangular oval.  Wilson was trailing Karam and was struck in the head by the nose cone which separated from Karam’s car.  Truly a very freakish accident that would result in such a catastrophic end. Wilson was attended to by the Holmatro Safety Team and airlifted to Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest in Allentown, Pa.

The atmosphere in victory lane following the race was very subdued with Josef Newgarden finishing second and Juan Pablo Montoya rounding out the podium finishers in the race.  All three were very concerned for their fellow series driver.  

With his 3rd place finish in a race that had 12 caution periods that took 74 of the race’s laps, Montoya came away with a 34 point lead in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar series point standings hiding into the final race next Sunday at Sonoma Raceway.  Graham Rahal came to Pocono trailing Montoya by 9 points but early race contact but him out of the race, finishing in 20th.

With double points being awarded for the finale, six drivers still have a shot at the 2015 title with Scott Dixon, Will Power, Helio Castroneves and Newgarden all with that “mathematical chance” but it is Montoya, who has led the series from the first race this year, title to lose.

A native of Sheffield, England, Wilson recorded seven career Indy car victories - the most recent in 2012 at Texas Motor Speedway - and eight pole starts in 174 races. He totaled 711 career laps led, including two in the Aug. 23 race. He competed in Formula One in 2003 with Minardi and Jaguar, and his initial F1 points were scored that year in the U.S. Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. He co-drove a Michael Shank Racing sports car entry to the overall victory in the 50th anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2012. 

Wilson, a road cycling and mountain biking enthusiast, also was an ambassador for dyslexia, a learning disorder characterized by difficulty reading that challenged him as a youth. He often would speak to groups at the racetrack and visit schools near INDYCAR race venues.

Wilson is survived by his wife, Julia, and two daughters. His younger brother Stefan is an accomplished race car driver who has competed in the Verizon IndyCar Series and Indy Lights. Funeral arrangements are pending. In lieu of flowers, a fund has been set up for Wilson’s children. Donations may be sent to: Wilson Children's Fund, c/o INDYCAR, 4551 W. 16th St., Indianapolis, IN 46222.